NEWMARKET -- Police were called to an unusual scene Friday evening when a resident reported seeing an alligator in the area of Newmarket Mills climbing up the banks of the Lamprey River.
According to Lt. Kyle True, this was the first time he's heard of such a sighting in town.
"A resident in town was walking down by the Lamprey River noticed a two- to three-foot alligator climbing onto the river bank," he said.
The call came in around 8 p.m. and officer Wayne Stevens and Fish and Game conservation officer James Benvenuti were able to use a snare around the reptile's neck to pull him from the location.
"I do not have much experience handling alligators," Benvenuti said.
True said the animal was likely dumped in the river sometime in the spring.
"We don't know where it came from. We would like to know where it came from and why it was released into the wild for obvious reasons. It could have posed a danger to small children or pets," True said. He added that the reptile would not have survived a New England winter.
Benvenuti said when these things happen it's usually someone who has them illegally.
"They just grow so rapidly they outgrow their enclosure," he said.
He explained the reptile would have fed on fish in the river or perhaps a small mammal if he could get a hold of it.
He said water in the area was at low tide so he was able to actually walk toward the animal.
"Once we had the leash on him it was pretty straightforward from there," he said.
The alligator was then transported to New England Reptile Distribution Center in Plaistow.
"He's in good hands down at the New England Distributors," Benvenuti said. "They have tons and tons of different reptiles and snakes. They know how to handle them."
While it is not illegal to own an alligator in the state, it does require a wildlife exhibitor's permit, which Benvenuti said basically means operating some sort of zoo. It also requires federal permit from the Department of Agriculture or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Without the proper permits, keeping this animal as a pet is a violation that carries a fine of up to $1,000.
"It was definitely an exciting call to go on," Benvenuti said.
He said there are currently no leads into who is responsible for the animal winding up in the river. Anyone who may have information is asked to contact the Operation Game Thief Hotline where anonymous tips may be submitted at 1-800- 344-4262.
Copyright 2013 - Foster's Daily Democrat, Dover, N.H.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service